Fri, 22 Nov 2019

The South African Revenue Service on Wednesday re-launched a unit focused on revenue collection from large corporate companies.

Known as the Large Business Centre (LBC) the division was in 2014 dismantled under the leadership of former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane, in a move said to have significantly impacted tax collection. It was recently re-established.

At the launch, current SARS boss Edward Kieswetter said the unit would service all JSE firms, multinational firms, business enterprises with a turnover more than R1bn, and high net worth individuals with total assets over R75m.

Kieswetter stressed the need of voluntary compliance among businesses, and rebuilding public trust, which he said had declined in the past five years.

"If there is no trust, taxpayers are likely to fiddle with their tax returns," he said, adding that there was a huge leakage in the system, including an identified trend of establishing shelf companies used to dodge tax.

Formed in 2004, the unit's disbandment was part of a plan designed by Bain & Company. The restructure later dominated evidence at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS.

Kieswetter lamented the hemorrhaging of skills experienced by SARS, saying around 115 specialised auditors had been lost.

The Nugent Inquiry came out with damning findings on the role played by Bain in running down SARS, including that the company deliberately sought to render the tax agency incapable of fully servicing its mandate.

Bain later apologised for its role in the the SARS saga, saying in hindsight there was evidence to suggest that Moyane "was pursuing a personal political agenda".

In an unexpected move, former partner at Bain, Athol Williams publicly resigned from the company at Tax Indaba last held in Johannesburg last week. He revealed that his view, "not all relevant documents that Bain had access to" were shared with the 2018 Nugent Commission.

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